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School movies – Panneer Pushpangal (atozapril 2013 challenge)


Letter S is for School from Tossing it out for the AtoZ challenge.

Though there are many school regional movies,  I had to mention this movie for a reason! – just a look-alike reason which my school buddies know!.  Panneer Pushpangal  –   is a 1981 tamil regional School movie which was a big box-office hit. 

Twenty years later,  there is another movie –  Sattai.   Sattai (2012) is  compleletly set in the school environment and conveyed good social messages loud and clear –  while at times the hero went into a preaching and sentiment mode, it was still a good watch considering the messages it supported.   It was one of those movies which proved that the audience will support movies with good messages if delivered well.

The theme of this movie was  very similar to Paneer Pushpangal movie in some way –   the challenges of teachers handling the kids in a matured way, the teenage love (mostly infatuation!) coming on the way of the students future, etc.  It still hurts to know that as a society we still are handling basic challenges on child education across the country for the past twenty years.

School is a necessary part of any child’s growing years.   At the same time, I feel the education a child gets outside the class room in the society is the one which shapes up the child  –   life skills is the most important part of education and I wish more schools focus on the holistic development of children.

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Home-schooling


It was a very typical Sunday evening but for the heavy rains lashing out – we were waiting after the music class hoping that the rains will stop. Children started talking and playing. I started a polite conversation with another mom who was also waiting for the rain to stop. When I inquired about how long it takes for her to reach home from the class, she said around 1.30 hours. As it was already 7.15 pm, I was calculating that it will be almost 9 pm for her to reach home. So, I made a comment “oh, it will be late for the kids…what time they need to leave home in the morning for school?” (am I being too obsessed with others problems or am I having OCD when it comes to punctuality?). Without getting touched by my unwarranted concern, she very calmly answered “they are home-schooling”. It took me a minute to orient and understand what she meant – while I have heard the concept of home-schooling, I have heard it very infrequently in India – few cases I knew of were from the perspective of specific reasons – security reasons for the royal kids, special children who need additional attention, etc.
Now I became even more curious and my mind was bubbling up with more and more questions….considering the rain gods were at mercy with me, I got into an interviewing mode with her

Why did you decide to do homeschooling?
It was more of an experiment – we wanted our children to be out of the rat race – we wanted them to learn for the sake of knowledge – we can only experiment with our own children
So, how is the schedule of a week day look?
Children get up early and spend time on yoga and pranayama. Then they help me in household chores – after breakfast, they spend around 3 hours per day on studies. As they are now on their own, they study other reference books or research on the internet. In the evening they go for basketball classes and play with the neighbourhood children.
Will they able to manage the board exams when they come to the senior classes (10th grade and 12th grade in India are board exams)?
Yes, ofcourse. The elder one is at 11th grade now and she did pretty well in her 10th classes.
Is homeschooling difficult?
Yes, it is difficult at the initial stages. I spent lot of time with the kids initially . I stopped working full time as homeschooling is possible only if an adult is at home guiding the children..

When I came back home, the conversation was going on replay mode in the back of my mind – made me log into the net and read more about home-schooling. I also happened to hit on this news article where the mom I spoke to and her kids were interviewed already – http://woman.intoday.in/woman/story.jsp?sid=6749

For me, home-schooling sounded like a great concept – making children learn for the sake of knowledge at their own pace and pulling them out of the rat race. While I still have reservations about the children’s view of it (my kids love the fun time they have with their classmates at school and they relate so much to school) and the impact of homeschooling on children’s social skills, I think it needs lots of dedication from the parent (invariably I read only about women supporting homeschooling of their kids full time).

Also, it takes lot of courage and the ability to take a risk if you try any thing which is out of ordinary – definetly the women who are handling the home-schooling for their children seem to be more courageous and is out of the ordinary here in India!!………..

All the best, folks!!!

Management lessons in Maaribetta Trek!!


As part of our team’s 2011 annual goal setting/team bonding sessions in Bangalore, we had a trekking session in Maaribetta day before yesterday (Saturday).  It was a team of 22 who came from all over India for the two-day sessions!

Maaribetta or Banathamaaribetta  is a little known adventure destination, near Bangalore.  We took the help of Woody Adventure Inc, an adventure event management company (Thank you, Raj!  You referred the right organizers) in Bangalore.  The hill is located 55 km from Bangalore near Kanakapura and 6 km on the Ramnagar road.   The trek through the rocky slopes, thorny bushes made the trip very challenging and interesting.  This place is also an ideal destination for photography – actually couple of eligible bachelors ensured that they captured their pictures in Maaribetta background for their matrimonial picture portfolio  🙂 🙂 !!!

The group was a  mix of male/female and young/old.  While couple in this group had experienced trekking earlier, for most of the participants,  this was the first time trekking experience.  Mr.Muniraj was our guide from Woody Adventure,  and was ably supported by Sangeeth, a 3rd year electrical engineering student from BMS engineering college, Bangalore (he said, it was his part-time job!!).  Through the entire trip, Mr. Muniraj was giving us lot of instructions and I found that  there were many management lessons in them to remember and implement  –  read them below!

We  reached the foothills of Marribetta at around 9.45 am (I have to commend the skills of the driver who drove through those muddy village narrow roads).  Mr. Muniraj requested us to form a small circle and addressed us  –  “  We have two options for this trek.  One  –  easy but takes longer time and the second one  is moderately difficult but takes less time. I will suggest the second one.  We have taken even 5th grade school children on this and they made it easily.  Let me know your choice”.  There was hustle and bustle with the team, when three of us opted for the second moderately difficult option, there was a sudden wave and everyone (even the ones who was skeptical about the whole concept of trek) opted for it.

  • Lesson 1  –  Give the options to the team.  Set expectations  – state the real scenario.
  • Lesson 2 –  When the leaders make the decision and set an example, it becomes easier for the team to follow.

Once our guide saw that the team is up for the trek, he went on with the instructions.   “We need very minimal things with us  –  just water and some light snacks, caps and coolers.  Avoid all fancy bags  – if you have a small light backpack, take it.”

  • Lesson 3:  If your goal is on something high, keep your requirements minimal.  Less baggage, more comfort.

We started walking and it was indeed a memorable one.  Mr.Muniraj was so knowledgable and kept the team motivated  through the trek with his instructions. While we did not spot any wild animals, he did show us the droppings/footprints of elephant, bear, panther, rabbits, porcupine, antlions.  He also showed us the trees which are dangerous (itchy trees) and the antiseptic plants.  He insisted that nature is beyond us and if we understand it, we will become very humble.

  • Lesson 4 –  Understand the big picture.  You will know who you are.

While the climb up was very steep and the climb down was very slippery, all he said was the following

  • Lesson  5 – Take Small steps –  one step at a time
  • Lesson 6 – When you need support, ask for help
  • Lesson 7 – Lead, follow or get out-of-the-way
  • Lesson 8 – In a team, the leader leads the way  and everyone has a part to play

At one point, I was almost stuck –  perching on a steep rock, not sure of my next step.  The guide saw me and said  –  “Feel the rock and focus on your steps”.  It just hit me…….how true…..all I need to do is to focus on my next step and not on anything else.

  • Lesson 9 –  Focus on your next steps.

We had a wonderful time and came back as a satisfied team  with more learnings  to operate as a team!!

ps- This post is my entry for the ‘Cleartrip My Purpose‘ contest in Indiblogger. If you enjoyed this post, you can vote for this in Indiblogger.

Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson


Imp Note-I found a free ebook link for this book on the web, which i have linked to the image above.  So, if you want to read this book online, click on the image above.

Short notes & good quotes

When I finished reading this book, I was disappointed.  I have heard so much about this book from my acquaintances from various circles (professional, personal, social) and most of it was high ratings.  When I actually started on this book, probably my expectations were too high, higher than what my acquaintances were actually trying to portray. It may be one of the classic communication challenges  –  where the noise gets amplified  – just that in this case, my expectation about the book got amplified so much  based on the earlier feedback from others.

Overall, the cheese story and the characters – two little rats (Sniff and Scurry) and the two little people (Hem and Haw) is a simple story which  also makes a feasible bed time story for kids.

 The book has many quotes on change management (listed for reference here), but if you ask me about the topmost takeaway from this book, for which I will remember this book is

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN’T AFRAID?

This is an excellent question which I think I will be asking myself whenever I am taking a decision in whatever circumstances – be it personal or professional. 

The other worth mentioning quotes on change management (substitute cheese  with what we want to have in life)

  • Having Cheese makes you happy
  • The more important cheese is to you, the more you want to hold on to it
  • If you do not change, you can become Extinct
  • What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
  • Smell the cheese often so you would know when it is getting old
  • Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese
  • When you stop being afraid, you feel good
  • Imagining yourself enjoying new cheese , leads you to it
  • The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese
  • It is safer to search in a maze, than remain in a cheese less situation
  • OId beliefs do not lead you to new cheese
  • When you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese you change course
  • Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to bigger changes that are to come
  • Change happens
  • Anticipate Change
  • Monitor Change
  • Adapt to Change quickly
  • Change
  • Enjoy Change
  • Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again and again

Life – the best teacher!


When I was in my college years, I thought that IIMs in India are the best educational institutes and anyone who is graduating/studying in IIM are extraordinary.  Probably this perception (!!) was mostly the result of being parented by two profs at home!!  Education, University and all those academic related stuff was really overrated at home and was default given the highest priority!!.  I still believe they are important, but then the past twenty years have taught me that it solely depends on how an individual is utilizing the education he got in his life!

Over the last twenty years, I have slowly realized that an individual’s capability to face real life situations is not much to do with the educational institute he/she has graduated from  –  may be, this is after the careful analysis of the IIM graduates whom were my bosses,  my reports and my colleagues  – i very strongly believe now that an individual’s learning is mostly determined by how open he is for new ideas, his level of risk taking and interpersonal skills, than by who taught him/her and where he/she graduated from.

My belief was reinforced today, when i came across this article about Siddarth ” what all this IIMA grad learnt after his degree”.   A very inspiring true life story!  I am adding his book  “EAGLE SPOTTED, MESSAGE DECODED”  into my list of books to read!

Life definitely is the best teacher ever!!  And we ought to be thankful it gives us all these experiences to make us complete!

To quote Siddarth, “There were many lessons from IIM-A that might have helped me during my crisis. It teaches you to deal and live in pressure, race against time and win most times. But one thing that come to my mind when I look back at my years at IIM-A, I feel my course would have been complete if I was also taught life skills. How to deal with people and their inflated egos, how to lead and make people see the bigger picture as you see it. Education needs to  go beyond careers, placements and packages”.

Good luck, Siddarth and Nidhi!  God Bless!!

Intentions and Actions


I continue to have this challenge  –  converting my good intentions to actions!   While it can be called as procrastination, i know it is more of my habit to get carried away by my  ‘ doing bigger things in life’  and ignoring the small immediate actions.   I came across this tweet this morning  TTrangarajan says “Intentions are nothing unless backed by actions. God will judge your intention, while man will only judge your actions”

While i was mulling over it through the day, I saw this  in my inbox from Indiblogger promoting the school meal program.  My first reaction was  –  “ok, one more mass philanthropy movement and a good marketing idea!”.   I honestly did not think much when i read it  –  but then, when i saw the details that one blog post will end up feeding 50 children, it struck to me why not i also write about it… –   So here I am making my little effort by willfully getting over my “doing big things” attitude…

Akshaya Patra Foundation was inspired by one of the ISKON gurus (while I am not much of a knowledgeable person when it comes to religious organizations like ISKON, I sure know that the ISKON temple in Bangalore is a must visit for his architectural beauty).  They started ten years back as an independent movement, but later gathered momentum in 2003 with the support of Ministry of Human Resources Development, India.

Today, they feed around 1.2 million children everyday  – what is unique about the whole program is the vision of the program  –  the program is just not a simple focus on feeding hungry children, but the vision is to “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.”

What is surprising is that for feeding one child for the entire school year it costs only  Rs.525 (approx $11.2)      .  You can donate online also here   –  Akshaya Patra donations.

Let me close my day with a satisfaction of doing a small deed!

Review – made easy!!


After a looong  time, when the family watched a movie  in a theatre, i was more thrilled about being together than what was going on the screen…….

Ofcourse, I did watch the movie and noticed that i was not as thrilled as many others…..(i already knew pencil and moon smart answer, i did not like the mockery on being poor, i could not stand the melodramatic technical usage of vaccum cleaner on an emergency!)………but then, i was anyways ok with what others liked in it…especially the teenagers where more than happy to quote this movie as an example to their parents…and then by force of habit of going with the flow, i did decide this is a good movie……….  !!

Then, out of the blue, zap comes up this  review on three idiots…on a blog…just could not stop smiling…….that someone took the pain of putting some of my thoughts……..

🙂

though i did not feel as  strongly antagonistic as in this review , i felt traces of similar feeling about the movie …….!

Review  –  MADE EASY !!  🙂 🙂

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